Archive for the 'Einstein' Category

The Birds & The Bees

When I became pregnant with Animal, Pigpen was 5 and Einstein was nearly 7. Because I had chosen a homebirth, and my boys had expressed an interest in watching their baby brother be born, I knew that some minor sex education was in order. The first thing I asked the boys was, “Do you know where the baby will come out?” Pigpen eyed me curiously. “Your MOUTH?” he asked, increduously. This further convinced me that a few choice details needed to be revealed. The boys learned that Daddy and I had made a baby and that it was growing inside my belly. They learned that boys had penises, girls had vaginas, and the baby was going to be come out of my vagina. At this point, Einstein said “No WAY” in disbelief. “How is a BABY going to get through a little vagina?” I explained that it would stretch enough for the baby to be born. At that point, that was all they really needed to know.

And so when Animal was born, as promised, he came from my vagina. Einstein didn’t seem too impressed, but Pigpen was quite captivated. My midwife lifted the placenta and carefully showed him where Animal had been living for the past 9 months. Pigpen was fascinated.

Back when I was 9 or 10, my mother had given me the Birds and the Bees talk. She had used a book. I remember being curious, but embarassed. I remember finding the book and hiding it under my bed, to sneak peeks at whenever I was alone and away from my parent’s watchful eye. It wasn’t long before my mother found the book, and it disappeared from our library. I felt like a freak, a pervert.

When I was 16, I lost my virginity. I promptly made an appointment with Planned Parenthood, and summoned the courage to call up my ONE friend (male) who had a car and a driver’s license, so that I could have transportation to the clinic. I was proud of myself, feeling responsible for my body and mature. Not long after, my mother found my birth control prescription. It was not a pretty sight, because of course, good Christian girls save themselves for marriage. I felt dirty and guilty. Perhaps that was her intent. Two years later, I would face an unplanned pregnancy that would change my life forever. I have to wonder if a supportive stance on the birth control issue would have caused an entirely different outcome.

Anyway, today Pigpen is nearly 7 and Einstein is 8. When I was in school, Sex Education was taught in 3rd grade. For Einstein, that’s next year. I have strong feelings about “getting to him first.” Not that I don’t entirely trust the public school system to give him good information, but mostly because I want him to have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss things in an environment where he feels safe and comfortable. I also want to educate him myself before his friends start talking, and boys start “ewwwing” about Sex Ed and stop paying attention during the lesson.

I’m a little concerned that Pigpen isn’t exactly ready for the big Birds & the Bees discussion, but I’m more afraid of giving Einstein “The Talk” and having him spill the beans to Pigpen in a secondhand manner that won’t be appropriate. And so, we embark on a new adventure in parenthood.

I scoured the earth for an informative book that was age appropriate and had information that I agreed with. I also needed something fun and interesting, with great illustrations to keep the kids interested. I found such a book, called “It’s So Amazing: A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies and Families by Robie H. Harris. It really is a fantastic book. The first night I pulled out the book, I told the kids that it was time they learned about their bodies. As expected, the first few chapters were met with “EW’s” and giggles, and completely hilarious comments. In one picture, there is a blackboard, in which pictures have been drawn to illustrate that EGG + SPERM = BABY. And so there is a picture of an egg (a circle), a sperm, and a baby. Pigpen points to the picture and says “Look! Egg plus balloon equals a baby!” While I am explaining that in order to make a baby, a sperm must plant itself inside an egg, Pigpen shouts out “EGGPLANT! EGGPLANT!” Halfway through, Einstein remarks, “This is kind of gross, Mom.” After the allotted reading time was up, I tucked them into bed and practically ran into the bathroom to lock myself in and laugh myself into hysterics.

Tonight, they were begging for the book long before bedtime. They just couldn’t wait for more information, little sponges that they are. They interrupted me after every couple of sentences, excitedly bombarding me with questions and giggling at words like “anus” and “testicles”. They whined and begged for more when I put the book away for the night. I promised to read more tomorrow. I was proud. I want them to be informed. I want them to know their own bodies, inside and out. I want them to never feel ashamed about the way their bodies are changing. Just the same, I want them to understand the female body. I want them to grow up to respect the female form, to know how it works and how to treat it gently. I just have to cross my fingers and hope that I’m doing the right thing, in the right way.

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The Cycle of Red

When I was 12 years old, my menstrual cycle began. My family was aboard a flight from Seattle to Orlando. I clearly remember stepping into that tiny lavatory, the sounds of the engines roaring and vibrating all around me. I can still see the dark red stains on my underwear, the expression on my face as I caught my reflection in the small, warped mirror. I was still unsure, so I exited the lavatory cautiously. I walked down the narrow aisle, feeling unsteady as I tapped my mother’s shoulder and asked her if she could come “look at something for me in the bathroom.” Puzzled, she followed me to the back of the plane and together, we crowded into the lavatory. “Yes!” she exclaimed “That’s it, alright!” She opened the door and called the flight attendant, who directed us to a stash of maxi pads underneath the sink. The bulk of it was uncomfortable and foreign. I felt it between my legs as I walked and I fidgeted in my seat at the new sensation there. I wondered if anyone could tell that there was something womanly in my cotton briefs. Maybe they could tell just from looking at me. I snuck glances at the other passengers out of the corner of my eye. My mother lowered my tray table and set her pocket calendar down, opened to the month. She drew a red pen from her purse and spoke. “You will need to keep track of your periods, to make sure that they are normal and regular. You will be able to anticipate when the next one will begin.” In bold red strokes, she wrote the letters “MP” inside the box indicating the current date. I stared at the ink, red like the blood that would flow for me each month, the blood that would never fail to appear. Blood like clockwork every 28 days. For the next six years I would ignore my mother’s advice about the calendar, the charts, the red pen. The blood would always surprise me, just as it had that first time, in the skies somewhere above the Midwest. I would curse it as it ran down my legs, diluted from the water of my shower. I would curl up in a ball in my mother’s bed as my uterus tightened and cramped. I would beg and pray and wish for the ending, the absence of color on the tissue paper.
And then, in my eighteenth year, I fell in love and the color of red took on a whole new meaning for me. It was the color of his hungry lips as he took me and consumed me. It was the flush of my cheeks afterwards, aglow with satisfied passion. I almost didn’t notice when the blood did not come. It was the first time I had ever willed it to arrive. I would cross my fingers every time I walked into the restroom. Days turned into weeks and still, it remained absent. And yet, for the next nine months, that deep dark crimson red formed an escape route and began to seep through the surface of my skin. The flow of blood was replaced by glistening streaks that appeared on my breasts and my abdomen. My body was stretching, making room for him, for the unborn child that turned my hatred of menstruation into gratitude and love.
His entrance into the world marked the return of blood. It flowed as furious as a river. There was too much, they said. It was everywhere, pooled beneath the birthing bed in an enormous puddle of scarlet. It had poured from within me, draining my skin of it’s color and rendering me weak and lifeless. None of that mattered to me, I was oblivious to it all. My eyelids fluttered and fought to remain open, as I intently focused my gaze on the only thing in that hospital room that mattered. His tiny face, new and red and his mouth open wide, screaming. He was bathed in my blood, still attached to my body. The cord was severed and the blood was wiped clean. I brought him to my breast, where he would suckle me raw, the red now blossoming from my nipples where he found nourishment and comfort. We would always be connected. He was mine and I was his and I would forever remember his beginning, in the cycle of red that made me a mother.

The best excuse ever

Last night, we sat down to a lovely dinner of garlic chicken, baked potatoes, and green beans.

Since Einstein has now decided to go vegetarian, he was sitting down to half of a baked potato and a nice big serving of green beans.

Usually, we eat canned green beans. They’re not great for you. Fresh is best, frozen is secondary. But we like the canned. They’re nice and soft and smooshy and salty. However, last night, we were eating frozen. (My Mom was serving and she has a thing against canned beans.)

Einstein took one bite of those bright green veggies and made quite the sour expression. He spent the rest of the meal whining and complaining about having to eat the green beans. Finally, I asked him to tell me exactly what he didn’t like about them. After all, we eat them quite regularly. What made them so different from the canned variety?

He thought for a minute, scrunched up his nose and said “They’re too….SQUEAKY.”

I was pretty impressed. Needless to say, the beans were scraped into the garbage. Einstein left the table with a little smug look of triumph, and I left chuckling.

The bad parent

Last night, our Filipino neighbors had a birthday party for their son, who was turning 12. They also have a little girl who is 5 or 6, and my boys are over at their house to play several days a week. The party ran from about 5PM to past midnight. There was a huge crowd of people and a bunch of kids running around like crazy. And there was food. Piles and piles of authentic Filipino food. It was delicioso. B asked me later if I realized that we were the only white people there. I didn’t. I was too busy inhaling lumpia.

Anyway, their kids are mega spoiled. The boy plays video games 24/7 and must own every game ever made, by the way that Einstein talks about it. Just the same, the little girl has just about everything any female child could ever dream of. Their house is also filled with junk food. Pop tarts and microwave popcorn and chips and soda and juice drinks. Obviously, my kids think they are the coolest parents around.

Last night at the party, we were speaking with the mother. We asked her if they always have a huge party for their son’s birthday. She said that no, this was the first time. And then she said, “Usually we just buy him whatever he wants. But this year there was nothing left that he wanted. He just sits in front of the TV all day anyway.” Then she shrugged. There wasn’t even a hint of guilt in her voice. It’s as if she was proud of herself, of her boy that is losing valuable brain cells every second that he wastes away with a controller in his hand. I was shocked. Neither B nor I had any idea what to say in response, so we just smiled politely and the subject was quickly changed.

This morning, all Einstein has talked about is video games and about how many things our neighbors have that we don’t. It’s really getting to me. My child is becoming materialistic and being brainwashed by commercialism and I feel like there’s nothing I can do to stop it. The history of video games in our house has been nothing but struggle. A few years back, B’s cousin donated his Playstation 2 and all of his games to my boys. We had so much fun with it at first. The time was always limited to one hour per day. But I started to realize that two things were happening. 1. All my kids could talk about were those damn video games. They were obsessed. 2. After playing for their allotted hour, they became cranky and irritable. It just kept getting worse. At first, I took away the games that were rated Teen. There was a huge argument over the Smackdown wrestling game, but we talked our way through it, and replaced it with a rated E game. And still, the problems continued. Finally, I could take no more. I loaded up the PS2, along with every game we owned, and passed it on to my brother.

Well, as you all know, we’re now living with my parents. And my brother. Which means that the video games are back. The situation is made even worse by the fact that our belongings are in storage. And so, the boys play video games. They fight over the games. They whine and complain and freak out when their time is up. They get bored easily. They talk about nothing except game strategies. They ask how they can earn money to buy the next game. As soon as they have $6 and some change, they buy a used game and play it to death. They write down nothing but games on their Christmas wish lists. When friends come over to play, they immediately want to go downstairs to turn on the Playstation. Same thing when they visit their friends. What is the point of a playdate if it’s with a playSTATION?

The whole situation is giving me grief. I feel like I’m the only parent who gives a shit that we’re encouraging our children to rot their brains right out of their heads. I feel like the bad parent. I always feel like the bad parent! I feel like I will never be able to teach my kids to enjoy life, to cherish the simple, when everyone else is pushing them to consume.